Education Update: 3/11/2015

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Education Update is a weekly blog post highlighting recent developments in the world of education. The linked articles and summaries are not endorsements, rather frame points of view to begin conversations about the state of education, trends, and how we as designers can play an active role in shaping schools.

Why Realizing The Full Promise Of Education Requires A Fresh Approach

MindShift digs into standards with University of Oregon education professor Dr. Yong Zhao, a proponent of education equality. Zhao believes that efforts to standardize the yard-stick by which students are measured has a potentially detrimental effect, particularly on those who do not measure up. “Being able to pass a prescribed test is not a high expectation…. to become exceptional in an area that you want to pursue—that is a high expectation, and it is about having dreams,” says Zhao. The goal, therefore, is to inspire students and establish passion in subject matter, rather than blanket students with a common curriculum. An earlier article linked here goes further into Zhao’s dream school.

Gender Gap in Education Cuts Both Ways

The New York Times reports on a new study that shows that boys are falling behind their girl peers in all subject areas. The report—from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development compiles the latest PISA test scores taken by 15-year-old students throughout 63 countries—shows that six out of 10 underachievers are boys, and 94th percentile of girl test-takers scored 15% higher than bottom-ranked boys. This is further exemplified by falling higher-education degree attainment by men throughout the world. Despite the stronger testing, women are still significantly outnumbered in the science and tech fields.

What Teens Are Learning From Serial and Other Podcasts

The Serial podcast, a spin-off of this american life dedicated to investigating the 1999 murder of Baltimore high school senior Hae Min Lee, has become wildly popular. Its first episode, Alibi is the most downloaded podcast episode in history. Teachers are starting to use radio shows like Serial to help engage students with powerful story telling that also fulfills new common core requirements for listening, reports MindShift. Other popular shows, such as Radiolab and This American Life, are also being used.

Radio shows have the advantage of not over-stimulating students and can be accessed by students reading two or three grade levels below the content. Serial, in particular is engrossing because it focuses on high school in the modern era, making the characters more relatable to most students than Jay Gatsby or Tom Joad . “I had kids cutting other classes so they could come listen to it again,” says Michael Godsey, an English teacher in California.

Podcasts for Thought

Beyond serial, as mentioned above, there are numerous other education podcasts. These three recommendations below are particularly related to education and teaching:

499: Middle School – This American Life shares stories from middle school. Hilarious and heart-breaking, this episode puts the listener back into those years of rapid change.

How to Become Batman – Invisibilia looks at the role expectations play all around us, and shares the story of a blind man who can see.

Ghosts of Football Past – Radiolab looks at the history of football and the Carlisle Indian School’s famous team. It is a story of education, expectation, and cultural struggle.

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